With energy costs rising, commercial building energy efficiency is top of mind for many business owners. Here are some tips to help you cut energy costs for your business.
The way we use energy is changing drastically. Depending on the size and location of a commercial building, you may be talking about hundreds to thousands to tens of thousands of dollars just to keep the lights on and run basic office equipment. That's a big chunk of change, especially if you operate a smaller business with moderate revenue streams. Thankfully, there are ways to improve commercial building energy efficiency—and some of them are free.
Commercial building energy efficiency: DIY versus paidEnergy efficiency wasn't a hot-button topic when many commercial buildings were built. As a result, a lot of the electrical systems use excessive energy. If you're serious about making your building as energy efficient as possible, it's time to investigate the changes you need to make in your building.
Whether or not you're interested in high-grade updates, there are plenty of little things you can do to lower your electrical costs. These DIY cost-saving measures need to become habitual to see any savings from them, but once they become part of your routine, you'll surely open your utility bills with less trepidation than you do now.
Commercial building energy efficiency: Turn off machines, save powerThis one seems like a no-brainer, but if you've ever glanced at a city skyline after dark, you'll see thousands of windows aglow despite the fact that most, if not all, employees have gone home. And it's not only lights. Some businesses leave computers and other office equipment turned on all night. Some things may need to stay on and active, such as computer servers, but computers themselves, as well as copy machines, printers, fax machines, and A/V systems, among others, can all be set to sleep or low-power mode overnight.
It's even better to turn off the equipment entirely. This involves less automation, so it tends to be a less attractive option, but if someone takes the time to power off all the active machines in the office, the result can be hundreds of dollars' worth of cost savings per year—money you can invest in other cost-saving measures.
Commercial building energy efficiency: Adjust temperature set pointsAnyone who's worked in an office environment knows that office temperature is always a contentious topic. Some people are cold while others are hot. There's no way to make everyone happy, which is why you might consider setting the temperature based on cost rather than comfort (within reason, of course). If your office is set to an average of 65 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer, turn the thermostat up a few degrees to 68. Do the opposite in the winter, and over time, the savings will add up.
Additionally, use different temperature settings for after hours. In the summer, set temperatures to 70 or even 75 to keep cooling costs down, and in the winter, set them to 60. Just don't go overboard; if you set the temperature too far in either direction, it will cost you more than you're saving to bring the office back to a workable daytime temperature.
Commercial building energy efficiency: Replace old fluorescent fixtures with T-8 fixturesAgain, depending on the size of your building, this might be a big undertaking. The average cost of installing just one fixture runs anywhere from $250-$400, which can add up if you're making a lot of replacements. However, the result is some 40 percent savings on your monthly energy bills, which means the investment eventually pays for itself. (And if you're using screw-in light fixtures, you'll see savings of up to 80 percent!)
Commercial building energy efficiency: Solar screensSolar screens are a special type of mesh screen that control the amount of sunlight (and resulting heat) that enter a building. These are more effective than curtains because they stop the heat before it even enters the building, which puts less strain on your HVAC system. Relatively inexpensive at $50 apiece, these are a great option for those already on a budget, especially because they don't require any labor costs to install unless you hire a contractor to do it. If you rent your space, many landlords will perform routine maintenance and upgrades upon request. You should check with yours to see what the policy is where you work. The result? A 60-80 percent reduction in energy costs.
Commercial building energy efficiency: Solar panelsIt's an expensive option, but installing solar panels can save you thousands of dollars over time. If you want to go all out and purchase solar panels for your commercial building, you're looking at a cost of anywhere between $50,000-$850,000 including labor costs, depending on where you live and how many panels you need to install. That's a huge chunk of change, but it'll save you 50% in electrical costs on a monthly basis—savings that can quickly add up to pay for the installation costs.
Be thoughtful and prudent
The best energy saving methods are the easiest to do. Merely powering down devices that use electricity and pulling shades over west-facing windows can save you hundreds of dollars each year, not to mention performing other simple tasks like cleaning HVAC systems and opening windows instead of operating cooling systems on temperate days. In the end, energy efficiency is everyone's responsibility, but it certainly helps if someone is staying on top of it.
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What do you already do to lower your energy usage at work? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments!